Everyday a new article is published about how anxiety levels are rocketing during the pandemic.
It’s hardly surprising when you consider the fear, imagined or otherwise, about catching the virus, the very real worries experienced by millions of people who have been let go from their jobs or furloughed, businesses going under, and the strain of living 24/7 often in cramped conditions with our nearest and dearest, or at the other extreme living in total isolation.
Life is in its essence uncertain (something most of us are in denial of), but in the current corona-climate, it’s like the very rug of our existence has been pulled away from under us. Which makes us as a species extremely anxious.
The trouble is, the more chronic this stress and anxiety becomes, the more likely we are to develop some kind of mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder or depression. So, if our minds are to come out of this relatively unscathed, it’s vitally important to take steps to manage our stress.
Endocannabinoid System Protects Against Stress
Stress is an inevitable aspect of life and as such our bodies are used to protecting us against any damage long term stress can cause to our health. Key to this protection is our endocannabinoid system (ECS) – the vast network of receptors in our brains, central nervous system, immune system and major organs activated by cannabis-like chemicals called endocannabinoids.
The ECS has been likened to a dimmer switch, finely tuning all our biological functions so they remain perfectly in balance. It also plays a crucial role in regulating fear, anxiety and how we cope with stress.
Unfortunately though, chronic stress itself impairs the endocannabinoid system, making us more vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression. Stress appears to cause higher levels of the enzyme (FAAH) that breaks anandamide in the body, reducing circulating levels of the feel-good endocannabinoid and its signalling with receptors in the brain. Indeed one study showed a clear inverse relationship between anandamide levels and anxiety severity in women with major depression. So in basic terms, the more anandamide deficient we are, the more anxious we may become.
How To Support Your Endocannabinoid System
It would seem that supporting our ECS could be one way to help ourselves protect our mental health at the moment. So how do we go about it?
1. Keep Taking Your CBD Oil
Scientists have known for sometime that cannabinoids, the unique compounds found in cannabis and hemp, interact with our endocannabinoid system. In the case of CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in hemp, rather than directly activating CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system, it appears to boost signalling by delaying andamide’s metabolization by the FAAH enzyme, which in turn has a calming effect on our minds.
CBD also supports healthy mood by binding with serotonin receptors. In a corona lockdown-style study, mice were put in confined conditions only to find that CBD not only lowered their heart rate and blood pressure, but reduced their anxiety levels as well.
2. Move Your Body
Whether it’s part of your government-endorsed exercise daily outing, or doing Joe Wicks morning workout in the living room, moving your body is a proven way to boost endocannabinoid levels. For a while now, scientists have known the ‘runner’s high’ that comes with intense exercise is as much to do with the production of anandamide as with endorphins. And just last year, a groundbreaking study showed in women with major depressive disorder, just twenty minutes of exercise increased their endocannabinoid levels and boosted their mood as a result.
3. Sing, Dance or Just Do Something You Love
The BBC’s health series ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ was ahead of the curve in examining how to support endocannabinoid health when it commissioned a study comparing how different activities affected endocannabinoid levels.
Singing in a choir came out top, increasing anandamide levels by 42%, but dancing also fared pretty well raising endocannabinoid levels by 21%.
OK, so it’s true in these times of social distancing, joining a choir is not a practical option (although it’s amazing what you can do en masse on Zoom), so maybe singing in the shower or along to the radio are the next best thing. However, the study itself featured women who were already members of a choir, so it’s possible some of the extra benefits they experienced came more from the pure joy of doing something they loved. Maybe the takeaway message then is despite the current corona-restrictions, try to incorporate something that brings you delight into your week (that isn’t binge watching Netflix or drinking too much wine).
If you’ve got any questions about which Spirit of Hemp CBD oil product is for you, don’t hesitate to contact our customer service team who are offering an undisrupted service during the coronavirus lockdown.
We’ve also got some great articles about CBD and the endocannabinoid system and a further deep dive into anandamide on our blog.